‘Damayan’ even during COVID physical distancing: Pangilinan

SENATOR Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Filipinos must ensure wellness of body as well as of mind as disease, death, desolation, and poverty brought by the COVID-19 pandemic take hold of the nation.

“Hindi dapat isantabi ang takot, pangamba, pangungulila at paghihirap dahil nagdudulot ito ng psychological stress. Ang mental health at kabuuang kagalingan ay priority na dapat pinagtutuunan ng pansin (The fear, uncertainty, isolation, and economic deprivation should not be ignored because they could cause psychological stress. The mental health and wellbeing of the people are priorities that should be addressed urgently),” Pangilinan said as countries celebrate today World Mental Health Day.

On their own, the senator said, families should take extra effort to be aware of the condition of their children and each member, and government through the Department of Health and barangay health workers should include at the forefront of their responses measures to address mental health issues.

Recently, the National Center for Mental Health reported a significant increase in monthly hotline calls concerning depression, from around 80 calls before the lockdown to nearly 400.

Reports also said that domestic violence is rising necessitating the increased need for intervention and psychological support.

Pangilinan stressed that addressing the situation will not only reduce the suffering among thousands of Filipinos, but mitigate as well long-term social and economic costs to society.

He said barangays should provide a hotline manned by trained health workers who can provide emergency mental health services through online or tele-counselling. They should also be ready to respond immediately to more serious cases such as domestic violence and extreme depression.

Among family members, constant conversations should be part of the routine. Families should also engage in activities that could hone skills, improve health, and tap the creativity in each member.

Even under quarantine, it is important to stay connected by checking in on family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors, especially those who are in need of extra assistance, via phone or social media.

“Nakakatulong ang may nakakausap sa mga panahong sobra na. Kahit may physical distancing, kailangan konektado pa rin tayo sa isa’t isa at nagdadamayan (Having someone to talk to can be very helpful during days that one can find overwhelming. As we observe physical distancing, we must remain connected towards social solidarity),” Pangilinan said.